Finishing second to Scarborough in the Conference in 1986/87, while experiencing the most entertaining football to be played at Underhill for some 15 years, had given us supporters a new hope for the future.

Chairman Stanley Flashman had built a sound financial basis for Manager Barry Fry to do what he excelled at - pushing his players and himself to the limit to entertain the public and install the belief that if the other team score three, there is no problem, we can score four!
Fry on the West Bank

To set the scene Full Metal Jacket, Fatal Attraction and Lethal Weapon were the films to see. In the football world Everton had walked away with the First Division title and Coventry had beaten Tottenham in the FA Cup Final 3-2.
We were all singing along to Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley, I Should Be So Lucky by Kylie Minogue and What Do You Wanna Make Those Eyes At Me For? by Shakin’ Stevens.

Lincoln City were the first 4th Division club to be automatically relegated into the Conference. Manger Colin Murphy, who had top level managerial experience with Derby County was in his second spell at Sincil Bank and the Imps were to provide the main opposition with a little help from Kettering Town for a Barnet squad which had hardly changed since the previous season. After a very successful three winning game pre-season tour of Norway Fry had drafted in ex Luton Town and Coventry City full back Kirk Stephens and a young Gillingham striker by the name of Graham Westley.

Kirk Stephens

Fry signs Graham Westley
 As the season progressed the squad did begin to fill out and first to arrive was top England non league midfield star Noel Ashford signed from league rivals Wycombe Wanderers in what was at the time, the biggest ever transfer deal between two non league clubs at the end of August. It was rumoured to be in the region of £25,000.
Noel Ashford

As fate would have it Barnet’s opening league fixture was against new boys Lincoln City. A ferocious game (on and off the pitch) in front of 2,600 fans, which saw a Dave Sansom hatrick and the easiest goal Nicky Evans would ever score after Imps keeper Nigel Batch had completely mis-kicked his clearance, set the adrenaline pumping among the Underhill faithful again. It eventually finished 4-2. The game was marred by a reckless tackle on John Margerrison, who had had more than his fair share of injuries during his Barnet career, It left the midfielder in plaster and sidelined for several weeks. The last day of August saw a 5-2 demolition of a Welling United side that contained a soon to be Barnet player, Gary Abbott. This result left the Bees third in the table with eight points from a possible 12 behind Weymouth and Stafford Rangers.
John Margerrison

A slip up at home to Telford United 0-2 was pushed under the carpet as the Bees went on a goal infested seven match unbeaten run including home wins over Northwich Victoria (4-1), Kettering Town (4-0, with Nicky Evans scoring two against his old club) and Altrincham (3-1) plus away wins at Bath City and Sutton United (both 1-0) and the main event of the season so far - the absolute massacre of Wycombe Wanderers at Loakes Park. Seven goals, including four from Evans and two from Sansom destroyed the home side. It was the highest away win since the formation of the Alliance League in 1979 but was memorable for two other reasons. Noel Ashford had been held in a God like esteem by Wycombe fans and during the second half a number of them, some even wearing cut out masks of their hero, jovially stood alongside the Bees fans. They then started chanting derogatory remarks toward their chairman for selling him. This chanting was wrongly reported as emanating from the Bees fans and an apology to the fans was published in a later home programme. However even funnier than that was at the end of September when Wycombe announced their Player Of The Month for August, second place was won by Nicky Evans! Numerous Barnet fans had posted nominations with the great mans name on into the ballot box during the game. 
Come and behold the King of Underhill

New faces were arriving at the club fairly regularly as Fry and Flashman sought to reinforce the squad.
Nicky Ironton

Double championship winner Nicky Ironton signed from rivals Enfield, Ian Fergusson joined from Bishops Stortford for his second spell at the club (this move involved a swap deal with Carl Hoddle) and a big centre forward by the name of Herbie Smith who had been terrifying the life out of defenders whilst at Fisher Athletic also put pen to paper - Mr Smith was to become legendary at Underhill within a week! Barnet were top of the table again but a fateful visit to Lincoln City was just around the corner.
Herbert Smith 

The FA Cup run pitted Barnet against lower league opposition four times in a row and all were away from home. Witney Town (3-0), Irthlingborough Diamonds (4-0), Berkhampstead Town (3-0) and Willenhall Town (6-0) were all easily despatched with Evans and Sansom scoring for fun. The arrival at Underhill of then 4th Division Hereford United in the 1st round proper was an altogether different proposition. Nearly 3,000 witnessed a disappointing performance by Barnet whose natural passing game seemed to desert them and they went down 1-0.

The October evening fixture and 2-1 defeat at Sincil bank was frustrating for many reasons and memorable for others. The black players in the Barnet team were subjected to vile racist chanting, with bananas being thrown onto the pitch plus the large Barnet contingent in the 4,600 crowd were subjected to continuous verbal abuse and intimidation from the Lincoln fans, plus the odd missile was thrown into a segregated enclosure that was hardly fit for pigs. The toilet and refreshment facilities were frankly unacceptable as was the standard of the stewarding and not a programme seller in sight! Right moan over, but you must understand that non league fans were accustomed to a more relaxed environment at games, changing ends at half time and standing or sitting where they wished. The times they were a-changing. The Bees played some scintillating football but the Referee lost control of the game very early on in an hostile atmosphere reminiscent of the opening game of the season. He also awarded City the most dubious of penalties.
Fry under supervision at Sincil Bank

Barnet’s goal came from an unlikely source in Kevin Millett but they were reduced to ten men when Noel Ashford got his marching orders early in the first half for retaliation to an appalling challenge and then incredibly to just nine men. Substitute Herbie Smith, making his first team debut and who had only been on the field for a matter of minutes, was also sent in for an early bath for an alleged punch!

For various reasons December and early January threw up five successive home league games. Only two points were dropped out of a possible 15. This run was interrupted by a 2-1 defeat at Enfield in the League Cup and a 1-1 draw at Windsor and Eaton in the FA Trophy 1st round. The Bees went through to the second round winning the replay 2-1. Barnet celebrated a six point Christmas with back to back wins at Underhill over Enfield 3-0 and Sutton United 6-2. The aggregate attendance for these games was nearly 8,000 and Andy Lomas in the Barnet goal had the perfect quiet Christmas.
Andy Lomas

The New Year saw Mr Flashman pull out the cheque book again to sign goal machine Gary Abbott from Welling United for around £15,000 and defender Nicky Bissett from Dagenham. “Abbo” was to make his mark virtually straight away with three goals in the outstanding 4-2 win at Telford.
Gary Abbott
Other players to join the ever growing Underhill squad included Lee Payne, full back Phil Stacey also from The Daggers, midfielder Steve Parsons and in March a young ex West Ham trainee by the name of Paul Wilson.
Our 2nd round FA Trophy visitors were Bromsgrove Rovers and they surprised everybody with a thoroughly professional performance at Underhill drawing 0-0 and produced an even better performance in the replay winning 3-1. Yet the general consensus of opinion amongst the Barnet supporters I felt was one of relief at being left free to concentrate on the important matter of attempting to win the league.
Nicky Bissett
Paul Wilson

February arrived and another home win, including two goals from Parsons in a 3-2 victory over high flying Weymouth, set the club up for the short hop into the county of Middlesex for the return fixture against Enfield. However the biggest league gate of the season at Southbury Road of over 2,200 witnessed a poor display from the Bees who were beaten 0-2. Two more frustrating games at Altrincham (1-1) and Maidstone (1-2) allowed the chasing pack to close the gap in the league.
Nicky Evans returned from injury in March and it was to become a very productive month for the club who won 10 points out of a possible 12. Fry’s attacking policy was illustrated by the fact that he started most games in the month with three forwards (chose from Nicky Evans, Gary Abbott, Dave Sansom, Herbie Smith and Keith Alexander) plus a winger (Edwin Stein) and attacking midfielders (chose from Noel Ashford, Ian Ferguson, John Margerrison, Steve Parsons and Robert Codner). Defenders Kevin Millett, Kirk Stephens, Steve Cox, Phil Stacey, Nicky Blissett, Peter Brown and Glyn Creaser were given a massive responsibility especially as usually only three of them managed to get on the team sheet! Home wins over Fisher Athletic and Macclesfield Town were overshadowed by the excitement generated by the slaughter of Wealdstone at Lower Mead. Six Barnet goals hit the back of the net including the eagerly awaited debut goals from the irrepressible Herbie Smith. The celebrations for his two goals are ones that I wish I could re-live if only to experience again the sheer pleasure on his face as he fell to his knees in front of hundreds of his admirers - marvellous.

Approaching April the Bees were five points clear although they had played two more games than both Lincoln in second place and Kettering Town in third. A brilliant attacking display in the 2-0 win over Maidstone in front of 3,510 fans at Underhill was ironically the start of a poor run of form which saw the club gain a total of only five points from the final six games. Lincoln and Kettering on the other hand picked up points. Defeats at Weymouth (0-2) and Northwich (1-2) and the 1-1 draw at Kidderminster Harriers were made to look even more depressing when considering all three were mid table teams who had little to play for and were in no danger of being sucked into the relegation zone. With each club having just two games remaining Barnet had 77 points, Lincoln had 76 points and Kettering 75.
Barnet’s last home fixture of the season was against another mid table team in Runcorn and it had taken on massive proportions. It was a very simple equation - win this one and the last game of the season at Welling United and Barnet would be champions. Would you believe that a Barnet hero from the future was to spoil the party in front of 5,143 fans, the biggest Underhill attendance since 1972. Barnet created chance after chance but only one was converted by Steve Cox while Mark ‘Spike’ Carter (soon to be a darling of the Underhill terraces) hit the winner in a 2-1 win for Runcorn.

 It was only the Bees second defeat of the season at Underhill. and the silence at the final whistle was tear jerking especially as Lincoln City had beaten Stafford Rangers at Sincil Bank 2-1. The Imps were now two points clear and they just had to win their last game at home to Wycombe to return to the Football League at the first attempt. A draw and a Barnet win would not be good enough however as Barnet’s goal difference was far superior.

The Bees Bank Holiday Monday fixture at Welling United, unfortunately marred by some crowd trouble, turned out to be a comfortable 2-0 winning performance in front of Welling’s biggest crowd of the season by far (over 2,500). Yet time had run out as news filtered through that Lincoln had got the result they needed beating Wycombe 2-0 in front of a Conference record crowd which still stands to this day of 9,432.
Barnet FC 1987-88
Commenting with hindsight is easy but 93 league goals was proof enough of the entertainment served up by Barry Fry’s team. However to win the championship a club needs a certain balance and above all consistency. At home Barnet had got it right but their cavalier attitude away from home which had won many accolades and praise had been the clubs undoing and too many games were lost or drawn at a vital time. To their credit Lincoln held their nerve until the bitter end although their style of play would never have endeared them to the neutral supporter.
Bridesmaids again but some happy faces!

On a brighter note attendances at Underhill were up on the previous season (average 2,600). Nicky Evans topped the scoring charts with 31 goals from just 39 games in all competitions followed by Dave Sansom with 27 from 48 games. They really were the dynamic duo. Gary Abbott, Keith Alexander and Robert Codner all made double figures.
Barnet were Bridesmaids again and it was so hard to take. The following season was to be one of consolidation and foundation building but it did have its rewards too. 

Lincoln City H Won 4-2 2,598 Sansom 3 (2 pens) Evans
Fisher Athletic A Drew 2-2 1,101 Stephens, Westley
Macclesfield Town A Drew 2-2 1,311 Evans, Alexander
Welling United H Won 5-2 2,322 Sansom 2 (1 pen) Creaser Fergusson Evans
Telford United H Lost 0-2 2,062
Bath City A Won 1-0 533 Stephens
Wycombe Wanderers A Won 7-0 1,606 Evans 4, Sansom 2, Codner
Northwich Victoria H Won 4-1 1,535 Codner, Sansom, Evans, Alexander
Kettering Town H Won 4-0 2,141 Evans 2, Creaser, Codner
Sutton United A Won 1-0 979 Codner
Stafford Rangers H Drew 2-2 2,282 Sansom, Alexander
Altrincham H Won 3-1 2,598 Creaser, Evans, Alexander
Lincoln City A Lost 1-2 4,624 Millett
Runcorn A Won 1-0 1,081 Sansom
Bath City H Won 4-0 2,344 Ironton, Ashford, Sansom, Evans
Cheltenham Town A Won 2-0 1,674 Evans 2
Kettering Town A Drew 1-1 2,245 Sansom
Wealdstone H Won 5-1 2,167 Evans 2, Codner 2, Ashford
Dagenham A Drew 0-0 696
Boston United H Won 1-0 2,045 Sansom (pen)
Enfield H Won 3-0 4,105 Alexander 2, Codner
Sutton United H Won 6-2 3,813 Alexander 3, Ashford 2, Codner
Cheltenham Town H Drew 1-1 2,751 Codner
Dagenham H Won 3-2 1,175 Sansom 2 Ashford
Telford United A Won 4-2 2,824 Abbott 3, Alexander
Stafford Rangers A Drew 1-1 1,867 Sansom
Weymouth H Won 3-2 2,414 Alexander, Parsons
Enfield A Lost 0-2 2,216
Altrincham A Drew 1-1 1,540 Stein
Maidstone United A Lost 1-2 1,329 Evans
Fisher Athletic H Won 2-0 2,191 Evans, Alexander
Macclesfield Town H Won 2-1 2,312 Evans 2
Wealdstone A Won 6-0 1,556 Evans 2, Abbott 2, Smith 2
Kidderminster Harriers H Drew 1-1 3,067 Abbott
Boston United A Lost 1-2 2,703 Awartife
Maidstone United H Won 2-0 3,510 Codner, Abbott
Wycombe Wanderers H Drew 1-1 2,956 Alexander
Weymouth A Lost 0-2 1,747
Northwich Victoria A Lost 1-2 1,483 Sansom
Kidderminster Harriers A Drew 1-1 1,851 Codner
Runcorn H Lost 1-2 5,143 Cox
Welling United A Won 2-0 2,517 Sansom (pen), Own Goal

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